Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Medical Science Update: Ankle/ligament damage

I'm sure many of you remember SNL's sketch where Steve Martin portrayed Theodoric of York, Medieval barber. The basic premise was Theodoric's absolute faith and belief in current medical science as he knew it. When Jane Curtin brought in her listless daughter, Theodoric confidently told her, "Well, I'll do everything humanly possible. Unfortunately, we barbers aren't gods. You know, medicine is not an exact science, but we are learning all the time. Why, just fifty years ago, they thought a disease like your daughter's was caused by demonic possession or witchcraft. But nowadays we know that Isabelle is suffering from an imbalance of bodily humors, perhaps caused by a toad or a small dwarf living in her stomach".

As I had mentioned in an earlier post, my ankles have been abused for years by sports requiring me to leap into the air and then attempt to land. On three other occasions the treatment was to put a plaster cast on the beat up appendage, the theory being that if you gave the joint time to rest and heal for a few weeks, it would be much better off. On my previous ligament tear, my doc told me that he was casting it because he knew I wouldn't listen to his advice and rest it. He said his goal was to immobilize me. He did show me how to fillet the Y bones out of a northern while his intern was casting the ankle, so I guess I got something positive out of the treatment. It took a good six weeks however, for the ankle to stop feeling like a flat tire with no spring and poor lateral stability. When the cast came off I couldn't even walk on it for an hour; it just felt dead.

Fast forward to 2009. Even though I self diagnosed the injury, I did call the doc so see what the 'current' treatment should be. After all, if it was caused by a small toad or dwarf rather than demonic posession, I needed to know. RICE (rest, ice compression, and elevation) for 72 hours followed by stretching, rotation, picking up batteries with the toes, etc., was the prescription. In other words, work the damn thing to break lesions, increase strenght and flexibility, and get back to normal activities as soon as possible. With all the ankle injuries suffered over the years, it puzzles me why this wasn't researched about the time Jim Thorpe was winning the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. But it sounded good to me so I painfully yanked on my skate boots Saturday and headed for the ski trail.

I went a nice, slow 8 kilometers with a little up and a little downhill. I iced the ankle in the parking lot and washed down two Ibuprofen with two Sierra Nevada Pale Ales. Suprisingly, it felt pretty good; good enough so when I got a call from the GraciousPartier, informing me that the Vasaloppet trails had been groomed and were immaculate, I immediately began laying the groundwork with the VOR for a Sunday day trip north. It was a sunny 10F (-12C) and the interconnected loops allowed me to go as far as I wanted to, which turned out to be around 13-14k. The VOR and I did a nice loop on the Beaver Dam trail, met her brother and nephew out making wood, and returned to the camp to find TheLegend and a couple friends enjoying some adult beverage and snacks. The VOR called the GraciousPartier and she was at the camp in about 15 minutes with beverage resupply. This was a real feat since she was about a half hour away, but she does hate missing a party and was anxious to make up for lost time.

I guess there is no real moral to this story since this particular injury treatment is likely the only one that has changed or will change in the near future. All I know is that instead of limping around with a cast for three weeks and then hobbling around with a 'flat tire' ankle for another three weeks, it feels pretty damn good. Its still stiff, slightly swollen, and multi colored but I feel likel I'm a month ahead of the other incidents. I may get some more skiing in yet!

1 comment:

Silbs said...

The ale made it better.